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New US citizens told to ‘live their dreams’

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FIFTEEN new U.S. citizens were sworn in during a naturalization ceremony at the District Court for the NMI on Wednesday.

The guest speaker, former Rep. Cinta M. Kaipat, mentioned Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech as she urged the new citizens “to live their dreams.”

“Get involved,” she added. “Now’s your chance to vote — go out and make your vote count. Now is your chance to sit on the jury box and hold your fellow citizens accountable. Now is your chance to join our armed forces if that is what you feel is the thing that you want to do.”

Kaipat authored the 2006 law that restored Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday in the Commonwealth.

She is also an advocate for indigenous rights, the preservation of cultural practices, and responsible environmental stewardship in the Marianas.

“America is not perfect,” she told the new U.S. citizens, but “speaking up when you don’t like something is your right.”

Noting that most of the new citizens have lived in the CNMI for many years now, Kaipat said: “I encourage you to continue to enrich the community with your skills and talent.”

Aaron Johnson, U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services officer, made the motion in court to accept the applicants as new citizens.

The new American citizens pose for a photo with District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona, former Rep. Cinta M. Kaipat, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services immigration officer Aaron Johnson in the federal courtroom at the Horiguchi Building in Garapan.  Photo by Bryan Manabat

Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona then granted the motion and welcomed the new citizens to the American family.

They are Jeamsuk Baek, Arnel C. Cadiang, Lilian D. Cadiang, Yueping Guo, Crispulo Bagtas Hilario, Daeyoung Huh, Ernesto V. Lacorte, Rosalinda P. Lizama, Luz I. Martin, Alfredo G. Napo, Ruel C. Nava, Manolo B. Reyes, Bobby N. Sanje, Cherrie P. Villanueva, and Elsa T. Zapanta.

They are originally from the Philippines, South Korea, and China.

Couple Daeyoung Huh and Jeamsuk Baek told Variety that they both arrived on Saipan in 2005 as missionaries. “We are very happy and very proud to be Americans. [This] is the land of freedom and justice.”

Huh currently teaches Korean at Northern Marianas College.

Elsa T. Zapanta, an accounting assistant of the NMI Football Association, said she first arrived on Saipan in 1984 to work as an administrative assistant and waitress.

Ruel Nava he said he first arrived on Saipan in 1988 to work for United Engineering. Since 1994, Nava has been employed by Ace Hardware.

“I plan to exercise my right to vote this coming November,” he added.

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